Election candidates survey results show strong support for walking policies

“Buidling a City that Moves,” the City of Toronto election candidates survey of walking, cycling and transit issues, released its findings today. The results showed strong support from council and mayoral candidates for policies that support walking, as well as cycling and transit.

The survey was a partnership between Walk Toronto and the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, Canada Walks, Cycle Toronto and the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

For the walking-related questions, the results were:

  • 97% support for “Will you work with the Toronto area school boards to develop and implement School Travel Plans that will improve the safety and integrity of school walking routes?” This was the highest level of support for any question on the survey. 100% of incumbents running again for office who completed the survey voiced support.
  • 92% support for “Do you support enabling neighbourhoods to establish “slow zones” (with a maximum speed of 30 km/hr) on residential roads?”
  • 85% support for “Do you support permanently widening sidewalks with high pedestrian activity in downtown Toronto?”
  • 73% support for “Do you support extending snow clearing to all residential sidewalks in Toronto at an estimated cost of $10M per year?” (83% of responding incumbents)

Two-thirds (63%) of the 38 councillor incumbents running for re-election responded to the survey, and 2 of the 3 leading mayoral candidates.

See the announcement and the full results on the TCAT website.

Improving accessibility on the Lower Don Trail

An opportunity for a major accessibility improvement for the Lower Don Trail will be coming up at tomorrow’s Parks Committee meeting. The City is planning to install two staircases linking the bridges at Gerrard and Dundas Streets to the Lower Don Trail. While this will provide welcome additional access points for able trail users, people using wheelchairs, strollers, bike trailers and other wheeled devices will not be accommodated. They will continue to have no accessible entry points to the Lower Don anywhere on the 4.5 km. stretch of the Lower Don Trail between Corktown Common and Pottery Road.

Walk Toronto is proposing that an accessible ramp be installed at Gerrard, Dundas (or perhaps at Riverdale Park, though this involves hillier terrain). When the TTC brings new accessible streetcars to its Carlton, Dundas and King lines, people with disabilities will be able to take transit to stops close to the bridge. We want them to be able to use a ramp and not face stairs, which can be a barrier. The same applies to patients at the large Bridgepoint rehab facility, which overlooks the trail.

Thanks to contributions from condo developers in Toronto’s three downtown wards, the City has accumulated $37 million in alternative rate reserves that can be used to improve existing parks. Let’s tap these funds in order to improve access to one of the largest body of green space in the city’s inner core. Toronto doesn’t have a big downtown park like Mt. Royal or Central Park. Instead, we are known for our ravine systems and river valleys. We must ensure that all Torontonians have access to them.

Councillor Fletcher has kindly added this item to the agenda of the Parks & Environment Committee’s meeting on Aug. 15. If you act quickly, you can send a letter of support to the committee before the deadline of 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 14. Click on “Submit Comments” at:
http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.PE29.8

To view Walk Toronto’s “Lower Don Trail Accessibility” report, see:
http://tinyurl.com/WalkToLowerDonAccessibility

You can help get candidates talking about walking

There’s a city election coming up, and with your help, Walk Toronto is working to make sure all municipal candidates talk about walking as a key part of making a great city.

What Walk Toronto is doing

Walk Toronto has teamed up with other sustainable transportation groups to come up with a platform and election survey, “Building a Toronto that Moves,” that will ask every candidate where they stand on making Toronto a better city for walking.

It wasn’t easy to choose just 4 yes/no questions to ask about pedestrian issues, but, working with Canada Walks, we focused on “slow zones,”  widening Yonge St. sidewalks, sidewalk snow clearing, and safe walking to school.

You can see the complete platform on the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation website: http://www.tcat.ca/election_surveys_2014

Every candidate will receive a survey, and we’ll be publishing their answers in early October, so that voters can use them to help make a decision on election day.

What you can do

To get candidates talking about walking issues, one thing you can do is ask them a question when you see them campaigning on the street, at your doorstep, or at an all-candidates’ meeting.

One question you could ask is:

 “Last year, 40 pedestrians were killed by vehicles on Toronto’s streets, a 10-year high. What will you do to improve pedestrian safety in Toronto?”

Or ask them a question about any other walking issue that is close to your heart – the key is to get candidates talking about walking!

Thanks for helping to make walking better in Toronto,

Notes from a Jane’s Walk

I admit that I’m a Jane’s Walk newbie. Nevertheless, my intentions this year were noble: to go, cane in hand, to the accessibly walk from 11 to 1 starting at Yonge and Eglinton. Naturally, the universe had other plans: I left my cane in a friend’s car after a night of music and libations.

Thankfully, my friend returned my cane and Jane’s Walks aren’t limited to the daylight hours. So, I made my way to Woodbine and Kingston Road for a “Spooky Spirit Ghost Tour of St. John’s Cemetery,” hosted by local historian Gene Domagala and Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon (ward 32), and attended by about twenty-five people, including NDP MP Matt Kellway.Jane's Walk 2013 01

The tour itself was informative and fun, made more so by the corny episodes of the local theatre group Bard in the Park. Domagala clearly reveled in local lore. He told us about the rather large headstone donated to the Son’s of England Benevolent Society, which provided burial plots for working-class families. Indeed, this sort of humble detail distinguishes this resting place from many other cemeteries in the city as there are few luminaries buried here (among them, R.C. Harris, the former director of public works). There is also a sadly ever-expanding site set aside for servicemen and women.

Bard in the Park

Bard in the Park

Although many there were long-time locals with family buried in the cemetery, some of us were relative newcomers to the neighbourhood, while still others came from “away” to learn about the area.
And this is one of Jane’s Walks goals: to get folks out of their cars on to the sidewalks to meet their neighbours and experience the city in ways they may not have done in the past. These small bites of knowledge whet our appetites to understand where we live, how it became what it is, and what improvements we can make.